Killing Kennedy

  • Review Date: November 10, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

Common Sense Media says

By-the-numbers biopic traces last months of Oswald, JFK.
  • Review Date: November 10, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

JFK and Jackie Kennedy profess their love and support for each other frequently, but the message is complicated by JFK's on-screen philandering.

Positive role models

This warts-and-all portrait shows JFK to be lustful, boastful, and destructive to his family at times. Oswald is portrayed unsympathetically as well, though we understand his state of mind at the time of the shooting better.

Violence

The assassination of JFK is at the center of this drama -- we see it reenacted, with gunshots and screaming onlookers. There are other shootings, too, and Oswald is abusive to his wife, hitting her in the face while she holds a baby.

Sex

At one point, the viewer sees the president and two young women cavorting in the pool; one woman is briefly visible in the nude from the rear. One scene takes place inside Jack Ruby's club where there are go-go girls gyrating in black velvet bikinis.

Language

Some cursing including four-letter words: "That's the most meaningless bulls--t I've ever heard."

Consumerism

Killing Kennedy is based on a book.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some scenes take place in bars where characters drink and sometimes act a bit tipsy.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Killing Kennedy is a drama focused on the last few months of the lives of President Kennedy and assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. We see Kennedy's death, both in historical footage and in dramatic reenactments, with blood, screaming onlookers, and devastated family members. Oswald also kills a police officer and attempts to shoot another political figure. We see domestic violence and the aftermath. JFK flirts and cavorts with women, including in one scene in a pool where a woman's appears naked from the back. Expect a bit of strong language and scenes of drinking and minor drunkenness.

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What's the story?

When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961, his idealistic fans thought he would usher in a new era of peace and love. Instead, he spent a bumpy couple of years as president and then was killed in cold blood while touring through Dallas. In KILLING KENNEDY, we get to know Kennedy as well as his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, a peculiar man with a burning hatred for American imperialist politics. Oswald can't hold down a job, abuses his wife, and harbors paranoid fantasies that he's being watched by the FBI. For his part, JFK's no saint either: He cheats on his wife and blusters his way through domestic crises, using the fate of the entire world as a bluff. The destinies of these two men collide in November 1963, and we watch helplessly.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

By now, the beats of the Kennedy story are familiar to even the most casual student of history. The Bay of Pigs. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Floozies giggling their way through the corridors of the White House. And then the terrible shots that rang out over the plaza and ended Camelot's reign forever.

Killing Kennedy's strength is in helping us know Oswald better (whether the viewer agrees that he was JFK's acting-alone assassin or not). We are with him when he meets his wife and idealistically defects to the USSR, renouncing his U.S. citizenship. We are with him, too, as he returns to the U.S. and starts his downward spiral: playing with guns in the garage, scissoring out ominous newspaper clippings, belting his wife in the face. It's creepy stuff and plenty disturbing even while the rest of the film is rather pedestrian. The movie is straightforward, though, and would be a fine one for teens to watch if they're doing a report or school project on Kennedy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the real JFK assassination. Does everyone agree that Oswald was his assassin and that he worked alone? What do you think? Does watching Killing Kennedy make you want to know more?

  • Have you seen another depiction of Kennedy's life and death, such as JFK or Parkland? How does Killing Kennedy jibe with other films you've seen?

  • Is the viewer supposed to like and identify with JFK? What about Oswald? What about Jackie Kennedy? What about the ways in which they're presented bring you to your conclusions?

Movie details

DVD release date:February 11, 2014
Cast:Rob Lowe, Jack Noseworthy, Will Rothhaar
Director:Nelson McCormick
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Drama
Topics:History
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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